TEL AVIV (Feb. 15)
A new organization of Russian Jews in Israel held its first convention at the Mann Auditorium here last night as Israel prepared for the imminent arrival of at least six Soviet Jewish families who unexpectedly received exit visas last week after having been denied them for months by Soviet authorities. As reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week, the newcomers will include Iosif Kazakov, his wife and two daughters. They are the family of Yasha Kazakov, a youthful Jewish activist who was permitted to emigrate to Israel in 1969 and has been agitating ever since for the release of his parents. The Kazakovs are expected to go to Vienna this week enroute to Israel. Meanwhile, a report from Moscow said that Alexander Kazakov, brother of Yasha Kazakov, was beaten by hooligans in a Moscow street last week. Reports from Moscow over the weekend also confirmed an earlier report of the impending departure for Israel of Mr. and Mrs. David Drabkin and their daughter, Moscow Jews who have long been demanding the right to emigrate. Others said to have received permission to leave were Mr. and Mrs. Viktor Fedoseyev; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gurevich; Mr. and Mrs. Vadim Barshevsky and their child and Krayna Shur, the sister of Gilel Shur who was arrested in Leningrad last spring and is reportedly awaiting trial.
Jewish sources reportedly know of many more Jews seeking exit permits who have been denied them. These sources refuse to regard the recent granting of visas a new trend but claim that Soviet authorities simply want to “get rid” of Jewish activists who sign petitions and try to enlist world opinion in their cause. (In New York last week, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, claimed that anti-Soviet demonstrations by Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere were counter-productive and in fact jeopardized the departure of 100 Russian-Jewish families who had already been promised visas. Addressing 3000 of his followers in Yiddish, Rabbi Schneerson said he had privately warned the organizers of anti-Soviet demonstrations “against acts which do more harm than good.” He said the organizers “knew that 100 families had been about to leave the Soviet Union. In fact all arrangements had been made for their visas and departures. I begged…(them) not to do anything at the time….I sometimes think that they would be prepared to sacrifice three million Jews in order to make their point over here. Now these families are being harassed in the Soviet Union because they, or some of them, are suspected of collusion with those who organize demonstrations in the West,” Rabbi Schneerson said.)
The convention last night was an emotional occasion, bringing together recent emigres from Russia and Israelis who came during the Czarist era. Among the latter were former Premier David Ben Gurion and Itzhak Tabenkin, of the Second Aliyah. Among the newcomers were Maj. Grischa Feigin, a former officer in the Soviet Army, who arrived in Israel last week. Feigin, an activist from Riga, was given an exit visa shortly after he was released from a mental home where he was confined briefly because he returned his World War II combat medals in protest against the Kremlin’s anti-Jewish policies. Another newcomer from Moscow was Boris Tsukerman, a scientist who arrived in Israel last month with his wife and two children. Premier Golda Meir embraced them both on the platform. She declared, “There is no force in the world, no government however cruel, that can deter Jews from coming to Israel if they wish to .” Absorption Minister Nathan Peled said there should be no difficulty in absorbing Russian Jews into Israel’s economy because most of them are well educated and come to Israel with skills and technical knowledge.